Many of our traditions reflect our culture, others are family traditions, some may be very personal. My children love to follow me very slowly down the stairs each Christmas morning. Their excitement builds and builds until they’re eventually allowed to rush madly into the living room and get torn into their presents.
Some Christmas traditions can be traced right back to the “first Christmas”. Consider four present day Christmas traditions.
Most of us give and receive carefully wrapped gifts each Christmas. Mary “brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). When God gave His Son as His “indescribable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15) to the world, He was carefully wrapped by His mother in swaddling cloths.
What is this gift? He is a person without bounds. Eternal, having no beginning or end. Omnipresent, having no spacial restriction. Almighty, being unlimited in power. Yet, when He was born, His mother wrapped Him up tightly in swaddling cloths to impart a sense of security and comfort. How amazing is God’s gift to us? The eternal entered the limits of time; the omnipresent accepted boundaries of space; the almighty experienced the frailty of dependence. The Son of God came gift-wrapped into our world.
Listening to the Christmas Broadcast
For years many of us have listened to the Queen’s Christmas broadcast. In our home she was regarded as a very important person whose message was worth hearing. However, at the birth of Christ an even more highly exalted person called an “angel of the Lord” visited shepherds in the fields of Judaea with a broadcast worth hearing. "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11).
God’s Son had entered humanity with a purpose. There was good tidings of great joy to be made known to everyone. A Saviour had come, and this Saviour was no less than “Christ the Lord”.
Humanity certainly needs a Saviour. This is as true today as it was two thousand years ago when He came. He came to “save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21) and we surely still need that. We live in a world of hatred, cruelty, self-absorption, envy, greed, corruption, abuse, slavery, bigotry, deceit, pride. Each one of us is infected by sin and needs a Saviour. This is God’s gift to us.
Singing Christmas Carols
One feature of Christmas that makes it stand out for many is the joy-filled singing of Christmas carols. One of the best was written by Charles Wesley:
Hark! the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn king:
Peace on earth and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!
Yet Charles Wesley was only reminding people of the very first Christmas carol. It was sung by a choir of angels:
Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!
They were singing about two intended results from Christmas: God’s glory and our good. Jesus came to show everyone that God is truly righteous and loving, and to make our salvation possible. How? He is the “one Mediator between God and men . . . who gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). God’s righteousness demanded that sin be paid for and God’s love provided the means by which that payment could be made. And so, on the cross, Jesus, by His sacrificial death, declared that God is both righteous and loving by paying the price for our sin.
And what good is that to us? It has made our salvation possible. You can have your sins forgiven because the Lord Jesus died for you and rose again.
Festive Christmas Gatherings
Many families enjoy Christmas gatherings, friends meet for Christmas dinner, workplaces arrange Christmas parties. Christmas is a time when people love to gather together. The shepherds “said to one another, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger” (Luke 2:15-16).
Having heard of a carefully wrapped gift from God of a Saviour, the shepherds were in a hurry to “go to Bethlehem” and discover for themselves the truth of the message they heard. Satisfied with what they found they “made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child” (Luke 2:17).
That first Christmas gathering united a royal family with shepherds from the fields. More importantly, it connected God with men. So Jesus Christ has been linking people to God and to one another ever since. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) and “the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world” (1 John 4:14 KJV).
Have you ever investigated this message as the shepherds did? Have you understood that the Son of God has come to be your Saviour? Have you responded? Trusting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour will make God your spiritual Father and all other Christians your spiritual family.
Let the good old Christmas traditions lead you to God this year.